Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Maduro 3 Santos 0?
Maduro 3 Santos 0?
So Santos just won his reelection. I am not too optimistic for a good second term. So many things can go wrong when you have such a false start for a very complicated process with a neighbor that wants nothing better but you to fail. The more so when the neighbors seems to be scoring several unexpected goals, a little bit like the hefty surprise victory of Colombia over Greece yesterday by 3-0.
Indeed, it has been a good week for Maduro. Besides the opposition unable to rally convincingly against regime's abuse (Maria Corina Machado seems to be the next victim to be offered by the MUD tomorrow), ISIS in Iraq is sending the price of oil up. Oh, not enough for the needs of Maduro but certainly enough to give him enough oxygen to prolong our agony for a few more months. Not to mention that a putative world recession would benefit Maduro as his imports would be cheaper, now that recession or not oil prices are to remain above 80.
Now, Santos reelection is a third plus for Maduro. I knew yesterday that Santos victory was a given when Colombian TV showed his cheers when the Colombian team scored. Right then and there, Santos got at least +2 points and in a close election that was all that he needed.
It is not that I am against a negotiation between the FARC and the Colombian government, but that negotiation so far seems to be held with so many trumped card that one cannot fail to understand the severe questioning made on that process. I am not strident like Uribe but I think that Santos has been had. And he knows it and tries to make the best of it, to further his personal ambition more than anyhting lese I think.
Why has Santos failed? First, an obvious detail: Santos was elected 4 years ago with the vote of a strong right, and now, that he has lost a majority within the right, he is reelected with the votes of the left. This makes him a weak president. Santos will be blackmailed by both left and right to rule, he has no majority of his own. Trying to gain a majority of his own with the left will be unnatural for the patrician he is, and the left will eat him at the first opportunity. Trying to regain a majority on the right will come at the cost of giving up his peace plan with the FARC. He is lame duck as of tonight.
I heard Santos tonight, and his victory speech was not a celebration, it was more of a campaign speech, a justification speech, a search for allies speech. Sure enough within minutes Uribe's speech announced that he was the leader of the opposition, that there is no honeymoon for Santos, that the crisis is only starting. Tough lame-duckness, at that.
I cannot understand how come Santos, the FARC bomber during Uribe's tenure, has decided to put his political future in the hands of mafiosi, drug traffickers, professional murderers and what not. And I am including in that group not only the FARC (and now the ELN that seeing how well the FARC is doing want in) but Cuba and Chavez. When Santos reached office he had in his hands the means to damage Chavez badly. Instead he forgave him in exchange for his help to tame the FARC. Chavez acquiesced because in Havana they were looking for a way to repeat in Colombia what they achieved in Venezuela: transform a minority left into a majority government in the space of 2-3 years though exceptional historical circumstances.
I do not think that the Castros can repeat in Colombia what they did in Venezuela. To begin with there is in Colombia a strong democratic right that is not going to lay at the feet of a new Chavez the way it happened in Venezuela in 1999. And second, there is no Chavez like figure. But that final objective can wait.
What the Castros are getting today with a weakened Santos that owes his seat now to minority leftists in Bogota, is neutrality on Venezuela troubles. We can be almost certain that the Santos second term will not see visits of opposition leaders at Casa de Nariño. Santos second term will never confront UNASUR, and even less about Venezuela. In short, prolonging Havana negotiations between Santos and FARC for a year or two is enough for Colombia to leave alone Maduro until he can exterminate Venezuelan opposition, including massive electoral fraud next year. Then, with chavismo unmovable once and for all, it will always be time to turn the gaze toward taking over Colombia, helped by a Correa in Ecuador who know has taken the open dictatorship road with his own plans for eternal reelection. Well, that is the idea anyway.
Thanks for nothing, Santos